The Winter-clad poplars carried their children,
In their arms,
Escorting them to the grave,
As they marched in the howling breeze,
Limbs writhing in misery,
As they hurled them bodily amongst the nearby tombs,
Where they gathered,
Unburied and still; brown and shriveled,
Forgotten and alone.
So like that Winter grove,
We, too marched, in solemn procession,
As the thick leaves gathered round,
As if bearing witness to our sorrow,
As if to speak the truths of our souls by declaring,
See! We are here to testify to your sorrow.
For we have already departed from our mother Earth,
And have gone forth to join her in anguish.
Snow began to lightly fall,
And, somewhere, a mockingbird shrilly sang its piercing, tuneless song,
As Winter began Death’s slow seasonal concerto of remorse.
As the concert commenced,
The tombstones leaned, gray-faced, forward in their seats in the earth,
Intent on each rattling tone as it shrilly lept out of Winter’s throat.
The music cursed the air with the cacophony of the Wind,
And its incessant howling.
As the grave rite commenced,
We gathered closely round the coffin and waited.
And waited, still, long after the rite had completed.
Without, the leaves thickly fell upon the Winter ground,
As the snow began to pile into thick drifts amongst the tombs.
In the distance a slow baying began to arise in the chill air,
We wheeled the coffin of Aunt Agatha outside and waited,
Perhaps the prayers would work; perhaps not.
The coffin was suddenly thrust open in one violent burst,
As a snout-nosed beast bolted forth out of the velvet cloth within,
Bolting forward into the snow to flee through the poplars beyond into the heavy woods,
Where the heavily burdened poplars yet bore their children, the leaves, to the grave,
Uncertain of their own fate in this weary world,
Yet certain of Death’s renewal and its hideous cycle,
And, as the leaves fell,
Aunt Agatha rolled amongst them with blasphemed merriment,
Mocking Death and Life in one profane, instinctual act.
The trees looked on in horrified dismay as Death bared Her Jaws and bayed.
John Timothy Carney is a published horror writer and poet as well as Ragtime Piano composer. He was born on December 13th 1960 in San Francisco, CA and was raised across the bay in Castro Valley, CA. He studied music as a child in the late sixties and later in the late seventies under another music teacher by the name of Edith Ryan. He attended high school at Moreau Catholic High School from which he graduated in 1979. He then went on to study music at the University of Pacific in Stockton, CA and graduated in 1985 with a BA degree in Liberal Arts. His ragtime works are available on scoreexchange.com as well as last.fm. and can be accessed by conducting a search under his name under the subject of Ragtime. His horror works have appeared on numerous occassions in the archives of The Horror Zine, edited by Jeani Rector, most recently in the April 2012 edition of the same as well as in Death Head Grin among other e-zines. His work will be published in Death Head Grin’s upcoming e-book available in June 2012 with a work of sonnet poetry in the horror genre entitled The Tomb of Azathoth.